Afghanistan’s new president, Ashraf Ghani will make his first Washington visit since his September 2014 election win, and the US government is rolling out the red carpet.
The Busy Schedule
The visit will span four days beginning Sunday. Ghani will come with his Chief Executive Officer, Abdullah Abdullah and a host of advisors.
The program will include a day of meetings at the American presidential retreat called Camp David, on Monday. Topics on the agenda range from the upcoming security transition to the economic future of Afghanistan. US Defense Secretary Ash Carter, US Secretary of State John Kerry, US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew along with both Ghani and Abdullah will be there.
Tuesday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will meet with US President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House and after, officials from both sides will meet over a working lunch.
Wednesday morning, President Ghani makes an address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress.
“It’s a different relationship” under Ghani, said Jeff Eggers, Senior Director for Afghanistan and Pakistan National Security Council. It’s “much better than the one we had with Karzai,” Eggers said.
The Future of US Troops in Afghanistan
U.S. officials say they are looking to President Ghani to share his vision for the security and economic future of Afghanistan. Ghani asked the United States to reconsider its timeline and troop strength for an anticipated troop draw-down.
The current plan is to whittle down coalition troops to about 5,500 by the end of 2015. The forces will serve in an advise and assist role for the Afghan National Security Forces, but US officials now say that a draw down plan is likely to be delayed based on national security assessments from Afghan officials.
On Friday, Sr. Director Jeff Eggers said that General John Campbell, the Commander for US forces in Afghanistan, was preparing recommendations for troops to stay longer, but at this point he said it remains the US’s intent to draw down after 2016.
US President Obama is said to be still weighing his decision, which is likely to be announce during the visit. The US is not expected to announce any increase in economic assistance to Afghanistan.
CCTV’s Jessica Stone compiled this report